Heroic deeds re-enacted
HEART-WARMING heroism from Gallipoli will come to life as Mt Perry show-goers meet Simpson and his donkey.
For the past five years, Toogoom RSL member and Vietnam veteran Ken Higgins has dressed in a First World War uniform to visit schools and shows with his donkey Buddy.
“Simpson and his donkey story is so compassionate,” Mr Higgins said.
John Simpson Kirkpatrick went to Gallipoli as a stretcher bearer, but the very narrow tracks made transporting the wounded from the front to aid stations difficult.
“Back in England, when he was a young fella, he used to take people for (donkey) rides along the beach,” he said.
“As they had donkeys at the Gallipoli battle-front for carting water, Simpson came up with the idea that they could bring the wounded back.
“He did that continually from the landing on April 24, 1915, until he was killed 23 days later.”
Mr Higgins described Simpson as a “real character”.
A member of the British Merchant Navy, Simpson had earlier jumped ship in Newcastle, Australia.
When he joined the Australian army, he changed his name to John Simpson to avoid arrest as a deserter.
“He created such attention – he used to sing and whistle,” Mr Higgins said.
“He would sleep with the Indian soldiers as that’s where the food was for the donkeys.”
Mr Higgins began re-enacting the story of Simpson and his donkey through his involvement with the 9th Battalion re-enactment group at Hervey Bay.
GALLIPOLI HERO: Ken Higgins re-enacts the heroism of stretcher bearer John Simpson.